Little, Wilfrid James (1901-2001)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

WILERID JAMES LITTLE: born in Kington Langley on 21st December 1901, the first child of Annie and James Little, a farmer. He was only three when his father died and Wilfrid was brought up on his father’s parents’ farm. His grandfather was a Primitive Methodist Local Preacher for over fifty years, and his grandmother had as a child sat on Hugh Bourne’s knee and played with the buttons of his gaiters. The demands of the farm cut short his grammar school education but Wilfrid recalled his farming days with affection. 

His route into the ministry came through Scripture Examinations and he felt the call to preach just before his grandfather’s death, and at his bedside said ‘Grandpa, the mantle of Elijah has fallen on Elisha.’ He became a Hired Local Preacher in Masham in 1925, went as a non-collegiate Probationer to the Colnbrook and Chertsey Circuit and following training at Hartley College, served in the following circuits: Shaftesbury Mere, Brynmawr and Tredegar, where he met and married Hilda. From there he moved to the Chelmsford, Paulton, Driffield, Lincoln (Aldersgate), Wolstanton and Nantwich Circuits, before spending thirty years of retirement in Bristol, including a year as Warden of the New Room. They finally moved to Stamford to be near their daughter in 1999. 

Throughout his ministry Wilfrid gathered friends — ‘wonderful people’ — he called them, as he continued contact with many of them, even from his earliest circuits. Wilfrid had a gentle sense of humour and saw good in everyone. It was often music that provided the highlights in his life. He attended the first Conference of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland and its Conference became part of their annual holiday. On the retirement of the Revd Arthur Holbrook, Wilfrid was asked to become its Secretary. The offices of Vice-Chairman and Vice-President followed later. In 1935 he was a founder member of The Methodist Church Music Society and before long he became the editor of its Bulletin. In retirement and just before his death, Wilfrid had completed work on a fascicle of Methodist Hymnody to supplement Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnody, and on the last evening of his life he woke and said to the friend beside him, ‘I can hear such beautiful music!’ 

He died in hospital on 8″” August 2001 in the hundredth year of his age and the seventy-third year of his ministry.


Wilfrid was born on 31 December 1901 at Kington Langley, Chippenham, Wiltshire, to parents Isaac James Little, a farmer’s son (1901), and Annie Carpenter. In 1911 he is with grandparents, George, a farmer, and and Mary.

He married Hilda Jane Morris (1906-2002) in the summer of 1937 in the Bedwelty Registration District, Monmouthshire.

Wilfrid died on 8 August 2001 at Peterborough, Northamptonshire.


  • 1926 Colnbrook
  • 1928 Hartley
  • 1930 Shaftesbury
  • 1935 W Monmouth Mission
  • 1937 Chelmsford
  • 1940 Brinkworth
  • 1946 Paulson
  • 1950 Driffield
  • 1952 Lincoln Aldersgate
  • 1957 Wolstanton &c
  • 1962 Nantwich Hospital St
  • 1965 Nantwich
  • 1970 Bristol (S)


Methodist Minutes 2002/44

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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